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Three recent releases from Herdade de Esporão

December 3, 2014 Leave a comment

Herdade de Esporão is an old estate dating back to the 13th century.  Incredibly, both the estate boundaries and the original 15th century tower have survived. In recent history wine has been produced since the 1970s.  Today there are some 450 hectares of vineyards planted with nearly 200 different varieties of vines.  Some three dozen of these varieties are used to produce the majority of the wines.  These wines are made in two separate wineries one dedicated to red wine and the other to white wine.  David Baverstock oversees all of the winemaking but Luis Patrão specializes in the red wines and Sandra Alves specializes in the whites.

My previous experience is primarily limited to the Monte Velho wines so it was a surprise to taste the 2013 Herdade de Esporão, Verdelho, Alentejano.  The tension in the mouth made the wine interesting, offered good flavors for the price, and it held up well over several days.  You could drink a glass with each meal over the course of a work week.  The 2013 Herdade de Esporão, White Reserva, Reguengos changes tack by blending three Portuguese white varieties with Semillon.  It is more exotic right now with creamy flavors and minerals.  Personally, I would drink this in the new year to let it loosen up.  Finally, the 2011 Herdade de Esporão, Red Reserva, Reguengos started off quite tannic but fully fleshed out within an hour of breathing to provide attractive drinking.  The oak needs time to integrate further but the ripe black fruit and juicy acidity will see it through.  I recommend you try whichever wine matches your taste.  These samples were arranged by Cornerstone Communications, Ltd.

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2013 Herdade de Esporão, Verdelho, Alentejano – $13
Imported by Aidil Wines and Liquors.  This wine is 100% Verdelho sourced from 10 year old vines on soils of granite, schist base with clay, and loam soils.  Alcohol 13.5%.  The color was a very light straw tinged with green.  There was a tense start to this wine with chalky notes and acidity driven white fruit.  With air the core of fruit persisted showing a tart lemon hint, texture, and a white citric aftertaste.  Well done.  ** Now-2016.

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2013 Herdade de Esporão, White Reserva, Reguengos – $20
Imported by Aidil Wines and Liquors.  This wine is a blend of 30% Antao Vaz, 30% Arinto, 30% Roupeiro, and 10% Semillon sourced from 18 year old vines on soils of granite and schist.  It was fermented and aged in a combination of stainless steel tanks and new French and American oak barrels.  Alcohol 14%.  The color was a light straw gold.  In the mouth that wine began with white fruit flavors and some tropical notes.  The flavors became creamy with notes of chalk in the middle, integrated acidity, and tart hints in the finish.  A tight core of ripe flavors suggests this will develop over the short term. **(*) Now-2017.

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2011 Herdade de Esporão, Red Reserva, Reguengos – $23
Imported by Aidil Wines and Liquors.  This wine is a blend of Aragonez, Trincadeira, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Alicante Bouschet that was fermented in stainless steel tanks then aged for 12 months in a combination of American and French oak barrels.  Alcohol 13.5%.  The nose was subtle with aromas of dark fruit and a hint of roast.  The wine started off quite tannic but quickly fleshed out to provide ripe, minerally black fruit.  There were tart black fruit with, perhaps, a hint of tar before the very minerally finish.  The flavors were supported by juicy acidity throughout and left ripe, baking spiced and chewy tannins on the gums.  *** Now – 2020.

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Some Tasty Portuguese Reds

Jenn and I recently tasted through four different Portuguese wines that could offer a change to your weekly wine lineup.  The 2011 Monte Velho, Alentejano provides distinct Portuguese flavors at a very attractive price.   I would venture that if you like maturity and wood box flavors to your Bordeaux you will enjoy the 2009 Quinta da Rosa Vinhos, douROSA, Douro.  Not that it tastes like Bordeaux but it is showing its maturity very well right now.   The 2012 Quinta do Crasto, Crasto, Douro is quite effusive with its fruit and should be a general crowd pleaser.  It is a nice follow-on to the previous vintage.   The 2010 Esporao, Reserva, Alentejo was the most backwards of the four.  On the second night the wine revealed it has some good things to come but it really is best left in the cellar.  I was a little concerned by the vanilla note but things should come together with age.  If you are concerned then you cannot go wrong with the Monte Velho and the Quinta do Crasto.  I have this sneaking suspicion that there might be some stunning Douro red wines in the $15-$20 per bottle range. These wines were purchased at MacArthur Beverages.

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2011 Monte Velho, Alentejano – $10
Imported by Aidil Wines & Liquors.  This wine is a blend of 40% Trincadeira, 40% Aragonez, and 20% Castelao.  Alcohol 14%.  This was a grapey ruby color that matched the grapey, black fruit on the nose.  In the mouth there was weight to the purple-black fruit from the start.  There was both a tangy hint and force to the flavors which began as grapey then became riper.  There was also some texture and black minerals.  ** Now-2017.

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2009 Quinta da Rosa Vinhos, douROSA, Douro – $15
Imported by William-Harrison Imports.  This wine is a blend of 35% Touriga Franca, 35% Tinta Roriz.  and 30% Touriga Nacional.  Alcohol 14%.  Tasted over two nights this maintained a slightly pungent nose.  In the mouth were wood box natures, black fruit, and general maturity which was attractive.  The flavors became plummy with some integrated acidity followed by tang near the finish.  The flavors were dry and a little salty.  The very fine and dry tannins left a touch of roughness in the end.  *** Now but will last.

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2012 Quinta do Crasto, Crasto, Douro – $15
Imported by Broadbent Selections.  This wine is a blend of 35% Touriga Nacional, 30% Tinta Roriz, 25% Touriga Franca, and 10% Tinta Barroca.  Alcohol 14%.  The nose was immediately fragrant with grapey and floral aromas.  In the mouth there was red fruit which quickly turned blacker with riper and sweeter fruit (not residual sugar) that had a cinnamon note.  This made way to minerals in the finish and spices in the aftertaste.  There acidity was there and noticeable on the tongue tip.  This youthful wine was still compact and should drink well over the short term.  *** Now-2017.

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2010 Esporao, Reserva, Alentejo – $25
Imported by Aidil Wines & Liquors.  This wine is a blend of Aragonês, Trincadeira, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Alicante Bouschet sourced from 15 year old vines.  It was fermented in stainless steel then aged for 12 months in French and American oak.  Alcohol 14.5%.  This had a subtle nose.  In the mouth were some roast notes with drying tannins that lead to a firm structure mixed with black minerals.  The flavors were a little racy and spicy with a citric nature and cinnamon hint.  With air the good fruit was noticeable but still low-lying.  It became a bit softer with a round, vanilla nature and perhaps some tar in the finish.  Needs age.  **(*) 2016-2022.

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Two Affordable Values from Spain and Portugal

February 8, 2012 Leave a comment

We drank these two Iberian wines last week.  Both are quite enjoyable and affordable.  The Bodegas Volver is a little more serious and should last a bit longer.  The J. Portugal Ramos is quite affordable, pleasing to drink both mid-week, or with a crowd at a party.  A bit of alcohol does show but the profile is tasty and the price is right. These wines are available at MacArthur Beverages.

2009 Bodegas Volver, Tempranillo, La Mancha – $14
A Jorge Ordonez Selection imported by The Country Vintner.  This wine is 100% Tempranillo sourced from 98 hectares of vineyards located at 660 meters.  The vines average 50 years of age and are located in sandy soils.  The wine is aged for six months in French oak barrels.  There is a pretty nose of dusty berries.  In the mouth there are notes of vanilla mixed with black and blue berries.  The fruit is supple but with acidity and texture from tannins.  There are some wood notes.  With air a little sweet spice develops during the initial flavors and the wine develops viscosity.  This wine will benefit from short-term aging.  Now-2016.

2009 J. Portugal Ramos, Loios, Alentejano – $9
Imported by Winebow.  This wine is a blend of 35%Aragonez, 35% Trincadeira, and 30% Castelao sourced from vineyards with soils of limestone and schist.  The grapes were fermented in stainless steel, underwent malolactic fermentation, and aged in stainless steel.  The color is a light to medium ruby purple.  The slightly warm nose makes way to gritty, fresh black fruit with a licorice component that is unique.  The pebbly flavors are from nice black fruit, gentle in nature, with mild acidity.  With time it puts on some weight and a bit of a green pepper note comes out.  Drink this solid value over the short-term.  Now-2014.